Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
THE OVERTHROW OF SATAN’S EMPIRE
"And He laid hold on the Dragon, that old Serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and He bound him a thousand
years, ... that he should deceive the nations no
Long has the world been taught the fable that Satan is in some far-off and unknown place called Hell, stoking fires and causing untellable anguish to millions of our race. But the Bible tells no such fable. It represents Satan as a great and powerful spirit being—"the Prince of this world." (
Again it styles him the ruler or "god of this world, who now worketh in the hearts of the children of disobedience." (
He has a great spiritual empire amongst men, which controls through ignorance, superstition and fear, the vast majority of the human family. The Bible declares him to be the great expert in deceiving the people—making darkness appear to be light, falsehood appear to be truth, and truth appear to be falsehood. It declares that God has permitted Satan thus to rule as a prince, but has never authorized him—that his power is purely usurpation, based upon these deceptions. It tells why God has permitted him, what object will be served eventually by the permission of evil, how Satan shall be restrained or bound during the thousand years of Messiah’s glorious Kingdom, and that eventually he will be utterly destroyed—annihilated.—
SATAN ORIGINALLY A GLORIOUS ANGEL
The Bible story is that Satan was created perfect, an angel of very high rank, named Lucifer, which signifies bright, glorious, intelligent. He was the first creature of God to rebel against the Divine arrangement. Pride
and ambition beclouded his wisdom. He desired to become a king, an autocrat, in some realm of his own, which he apparently fancied he could rule more wisely than could Jehovah. Beholding the newly created Adam and Eve, with procreative powers and authority from God to fill the earth with glorious perfect human beings, Satan concluded that he would never have a better opportunity than this for establishing himself as a great king.
If he could alienate man from the Creator, he would soon have an empire of his own. He succeeded in tempting Adam to disloyalty—disobedience to God—and thus barred him from Divine favor. But later, he found that God’s pronouncement, "the wages of sin is death" (
), was not an idle threat; and that all of his subjects were dying. The blight of sin was upon his kingdom, and the only way he could continue it at all was through continued deceptions.
His next move was to establish a new race, infused with fresh blood. The fact that God had not punished Satan’s disloyalty was, no doubt, a surprise to all the holy angels. It appeared as though Satan were too powerful for God to punish him. Hence, when Satan presented the proposition that the angels should materialize as men and beget human children of the human mothers of the race, a considerable number of the angels deflected, and participated in the proposition. As the Bible declares, "they left their own estate," or condition. The Bible tells us that the result of this unauthorized union was a new race, physically giants, "men of renown"—intellectually strong, but morally perverted. The record further is that this new race filled the earth with violence, dominating, enslaving, mistreating humanity.
WHAT THE DELUGE ACCOMPLISHED
Foreknowing these conditions, God had arranged for a flood; for mankind had become so corrupt under these evil influences that a continuance of those conditions could no longer be beneficial. The entire race, except Noah’s
family of eight persons, were drowned in the Deluge.
Not a word in the Bible tells that these antediluvians went to eternal torture, but everything in it teaches that they died—lost life entirely. But because God purposes their eventual deliverance from death during the thousand years of Christ’s Reign, therefore the Bible teaches that they fell asleep in death, not to be awakened until after the Millennial dawn and the establishment of righteousness in the earth. Then they are to come forth, not all at once, but "every man in his own order."
St. Peter (
) and St. Jude (Jude 6) inform us that from the time of the Deluge, Satan and the other angels of lower order, who were misled by him into misuse of their powers, were put under chains of darkness until the judgment of the great Day, now at hand. This signifies their restraint, their hindrance from materializing.
Since then, their dealing with mankind has been, not open as before, but in darkness, in deception, etc.
Satan is called the Prince of Darkness, of evil, of sin, of error. Jesus styles him the "father of lies"; and because it was through his misrepresentations that Adam and his race came under the Divine sentence of death, therefore Jesus styles Satan "a murderer from the beginning."—
For approximately four thousand years this mighty, wicked spiritual prince has not only been the Prince of demons, "the angels that sinned," but also, by deception, the god or ruler of humanity. His rule of darkness has not been an open one, which the race would resent, but a reign through deception and through the wickedness of humanity—"children of disobedience."—
The work of Satan and his demon hosts is manifest amongst the heathen peoples. As St. Paul declares, these are so deceived that they really worship the demons instead of God—ignorantly. (
.) The demonology by which they have been deceived has operated through dreams, visions and spirit mediums.
CHRISTENDOM IS SATAN’S TRIUMPH
When God entered into a Covenant with the Israelites at Mount Sinai, His Law forebade them to have anything to do with these evil spirits, whose communications were through necromancers, wizards, etc. The Divine command was that no such agents of the Evil One were to be permitted to live in the land of Israel. But by putting darkness instead of light, Satan brought many of the Israelites under the influence of his errors, so that in the days of Jesus one of His most prominent works was that of casting out demons from those who had come into so close contact with the evil spirits that they were obsessed by demons. The same was true of the Apostles, who also cast out demons. A notable instance was that of the maid that brought her masters much gain through soothsaying—fortune telling. St. Paul commanded the evil spirit to come out of her, and forthwith her power to foretell events, etc., was at an end.—
The teachings of Jesus and the Apostles brought a great light into the world and established new standards, in proportion as their teachings were received. The Bible tells us that as the darkness hates the light, so those who are under the influence of Satan’s falsehoods hate the true Message of God, promulgated by Jesus and His followers.
Much of the persecution of the children of light must be ascribed to Satan and his hosts. As we read, "The Devil shall cast many of you into prison," etc. (
.) Throughout the eighteen hundred years of this Gospel Age there has been a warfare between the light and the darkness, between Satan’s false teachings, insidiously ingrafted into men’s minds, and the teachings of the Lord and His people, who received these into good and honest hearts. Pride and ambition were stirred up in the Church; and those who should have been humble followers of Jesus were misled into pomposity, with a form of godliness, but denying its power.—
About the year 325 A.D., the Bishops of the Church,
misled by Satan, proclaimed themselves to be successors to the Apostles in power and Divine authority; whereas the Bible declares that there were only "Twelve Apostles of the Lamb." (
.) We see clearly that the Church has their testimony in the Bible as fully today as ever; and, as St. Paul, who took the place of Judas, declares the Word of God is sufficient, that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished. (
.) The deluded Bishops, claiming Divine authority, made many changes from the teachings of the Bible, claiming that they individually had the same inspiration as the Apostles.
They additionally fortified their position by holding Apostolic Councils, and through these making creeds which for more than twelve hundred years entirely supplanted the Bible.
The first of these creeds claimed to be a simplification of the Bible story, making Bible study unnecessary. The Nicene Creed was made in the year 325 A.D., at the Council of Nice, attended by three hundred and eighty-four Bishops, at the invitation of Emperor Constantine, who paid their expenses. According to his promise, he backed up this creed, made at his suggestion and in harmony with his assurances. Hundreds of thousands of the heathen forthwith flocked into the Christian churches, with practically no knowledge of God or of the Bible. Considering it impossible to immerse these multitudes, the Bishops sprinkled them, claiming full authority for their action; and the heathen following of the Emperor are said to have been baptised by the dipping of boughs and branches of trees into water and the sprinkling of it upon them en masse!
For more than twelve centuries anybody found in possession of the Bible, or studying it, was suspected of heresy and liable to persecution; for why should they study the Bible when the Emperor and the so-called Apostolic Bishops had declared the Nicene Creed to be a condensation of the Bible, and all that was necessary to
be believed? During those twelve centuries in which the professed followers of Jesus were without the guidance of the Bible, the so-called Bishop-Apostles met from time to time and made new creeds containing fresh errors—the very errors which have troubled the whole world ever since, and which are still troubling us and confusing us.
The Bible, speaking of the influence of these false doctrines of the civilized world, declared that all nations "were made drunk by the wine" of false doctrine. (
.) Gradually we are getting over the drunken stupor of error which has so beclouded our faculties that they led us to think of our Almighty Friend and Creator—the God of all grace, the Father of all mercies, from whom cometh down every good and perfect gift—to think of Him as a great devil, who from the beginning has plotted knowingly and intelligently for the creation of the race, nearly all of whom were to spend an eternity in torture.
SATAN HAMPERED REFORMATION
Any one familiar with history realizes that both Catholics and Protestants are truer and nobler men and teachers since the Reformation time than they were before.
We are not blaming humanity for the reign of darkness. We are charging the matter to our great Adversary, Satan, as the Bible does. It has ever been his custom to pose as an angel of light—a leader—to defend the Truth and to spread knowledge; whereas in reality he has always persistently continued to be the enemy and adversary of God—seeking to thwart every feature of the Divine Plan. No doubt at many times he has thought himself successful, not catching the spirit of the Divine Program or realizing that God is able to make all of his machinations to work out eventually for good.
When in the Sixteenth Century the light of the Reformation began to break, the people began to look past the Bishops and to inquire what Jesus and the Apostles had said. They wanted the Bible. But for a time the
Bishops stood in their way. It was in the year 1526 A.D., exactly twelve centuries after the making of the first creed, that Professor Tyndale, a godly man and a scholar, translated the New Testament into English and sought to give it to the British people. Although printing and paper had been invented, he could not have his work published in Great Britain; for the power of the Bishops was too strong. No printers dared offend them.
Professor Tyndale finally succeeded in having his work printed on German presses in the city of Hamburg, and then imported these New Testaments into London.
They appeared in the shop windows, and the people rejoiced. But the masses found themselves unable to read; for education was only amongst the favored few.
They started to have Bible readings—to hire scholarly persons to read to them. But the Bishops, learning of these things, bought up the entire edition of Tyndale’s New Testament and publicly burned the books in front of St. Paul’s Cathedral, in London—Protestant Bishops of the Church of England! They reasoned that if the people got back to the Bible, they would ignore the creeds and those who had made the creeds; and that thus their own honor and influence be lost. They foresaw also that all the creeds would be challenged by Bible authority, and that their Apostolic claims also would be challenged by the words of Jesus, who declares that those who so claim "do lie."—
But the Lord’s time came for the Bible to return gradually to its proper place. The Bishops found that the people were murmuring against their course; and in forty years the murmuring reached such a height that the Bishops found it wiser to bring out a Bible translation.
They called it the Bishop’s Bible, in order that they might draw back to themselves the favor of the people, and thus offset their previous Bible burning. But they warned the people that in reading the Bible they must interpret it by the creeds which the Bishops had
made during the preceding twelve centuries; that otherwise they would be heretics and suffer eternal torment.
The matter worked well. Then the Catholics said, "Why cannot we similarly give the people the Bible, and yet hold them down to creedal interpretations of it?"
So they prepared at Douay College, France, the Douay Bible, and gave it to the Catholics, with similar warnings that there was great danger in reading it, and that whoever interpreted it otherwise than by the creeds would be heretics and could not even get off with Purgatory, but would go down to eternal torture.
In addition to these handicaps, we must remember that all the reformers who really appreciated the Bible had their minds warped and twisted by twelve centuries of human misrepresentation of the Divine character and Plan, under the malevolent influence of "the Prince of this world." Hence, although the translations of the Bible are generally good, they are interspersed here and there with the mental coloring of the translators. Nor can we wonder at this. Twelve centuries of error and darkness must greatly becloud the mind and require time to be dislodged.
SECT FOLLOWED SECT SEEKING LIGHT
Again Satan sought to block the path of Christian progress from the darkness to light by encouraging sectarianism.
Yet each sect was really seeking more light; and Satan, as the Prince of Darkness, succeeded in leading some this way and some that way, and in perpetuating and to some extent increasing the confusion of doctrines, until today the vast majority of even those who profess full consecration to God are perplexed, bewildered. The fire of Higher Criticism and of Evolutionary theories emanating from the colleges is bringing up the false faith of many, as St. Paul foretold would be the case with those who built their faith with the wood, hay and stubble of human tradition, and who did not
sufficiently search out and build with the gold, silver and precious stones of Divine Truth.—
The eminent Cardinal Newman expressed the sentiment of all honest Christians in his hymn, which has met with such general favor everywhere. In it he says:
"Lead, kindly Light, Amid the encircling gloom; Lead Thou me on.
The night is dark, And I am far from home: Lead Thou me on."
Like the Cardinal, all Christian people are coming to realize that they have been in an encircling gloom; and that somehow or other, error, false doctrine, has been the cause of that gloom. All Christians, as well as the Cardinal, realize the need of a Divine Light to guide the people of God. They realize that they are still in the dark night, and that the morning of Divine blessing has not yet burst in upon the people of the world. Thank God, however, it is breaking now! We are in the dawn of the glorious Millennial Kingdom.
Soon the Sun of Righteousness will arise with healing in His beams. (
.) Soon Satan will be bound for a thousand years, to deceive mankind no longer. (
.) And then, a little later, according to the Word of the Lord, Satan and all those who will then intelligently sympathize with his wrong course, and who refuse obedience to God under the blessed influence of Messiah’s Kingdom, will be destroyed in the fire, or judgment, which will come down from Heaven—the Second Death, from which there will be no redemption, no recovery. (
.) Of those St. Peter declares that they shall perish like natural brute beasts; and St. Paul tells us that they shall be punished with everlasting destruction.
Although Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans—all—admit, as does the Cardinal, that they are encircled in the gloom and the darkness of the night everywhere about, nevertheless each consoles himself with the thought that it is no more dark or gloomy
with him than with those of other sects. Evidently this is the truth. But the difficulty has been that although there are many sects, parties and divisions amongst the people of God, there is no more authority in the Bible for one of these sects than for another. The only Church of the Bible is "the Church of the First-borns," whose names are "written in Heaven"—"in the Lamb’s Book of Life."—
The course which God’s people should have pursued would have been to keep free from any sectarian bondage and to continue to walk in the light of the Truth, instead of binding themselves with human creeds and staking their minds back to the teachings of Luther, Calvin, Wesley and others. It is not too late yet to step out from all human bondage and to obey the command of the Lord’s Word, which says that we should walk in the Light, and not sit in sectarian darkness. The Bible tells us that "the path of the just is as a shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." (
.) We are now in the beginning of that perfect Day; and all who are walking in the light, and are free from bondage, are receiving blessings from the Lord; for it is "due time."—
It is safe to say that no ministry of education in any of the so-called orthodox sects believes the creed of his own denomination or would think for a moment of defending it before the public. A Baltimore minister, recently challenged by one of his congregation as to the truthfulness of the creeds respecting the eternal torment of all except the saintly believers in Christ, said, "George, George, I do not believe those things one bit more than you do! But, George, I am bound to preach them. I cannot help myself!"
Alas, poor man, how terrible his slavery! What mighty power could bind him to slander his Creator?
The wealth of the world should not be worthy of the slightest consideration if it could be obtained at such
a price. The sale of the Almighty’s name and character necessarily seem worse to us than the course of Judas Iscariot in the selling of Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.
Additionally, how much more would any honorable man demand for deceiving the congregation who trusted him and who supplied a living for himself and his family?
How much money should it require of any honest man to keep his confiding flock in ignorance of his real views and of the teachings of the Bible?
Alas, alas, how much hypocrisy appears to be in the world under the cloak of religion! The ministers of today have taken vows to preach creeds which they do not believe, and are quietly assenting to those creeds and allowing their congregations to think that they believe them, when privately they confess to their fellows and to many of their congregations that they have no faith whatever in those teachings. As with the pulpit, so with the pew! How many bankers, doctors, lawyers, far too intelligent to believe the monstrosities of the creeds, nevertheless back with their personal influence and their money those very creeds which dishonor God, and which have driven thousands of sensible people away from all denominations! Would these same men be so dishonest in respect to their vows to the Masons or the Odd Fellows or other human organizations? Would they support things which they did not believe? We cannot think so.
The only explanation we have for such a terrible course of hypocrisy is that these good people do not realize what they are doing and believe themselves justified in professing a lie because others so do. Surely the hour of awakening and of decision is upon us. If I am correct in teaching that Messiah’s Kingdom is at the door, surely it is time to be sobered up from the false doctrines, time to be very penitent for our share therein, time to step out of all false representations into the liberty wherewith Christ has made His people free (
), and time to profess the Truth and to uphold it and it alone.